Second chances.  I love them, and not just for my characters.  In the case of my Hamilton Christmas trilogy, the second chance is for the stories themselves. I was thrilled when my editor told me that Kensington was going to gather the three holiday stories I’d set in my fictional town of Hamilton, stories that had originally been tucked away in three separate anthologies and bring them out again as solo novellas, so readers could enjoy each one of them on their own.

As I re-read the stories again, in preparation for their release, I couldn’t help but reflect back to where I was in my life when I first wrote these stories.  At the time, I was living in a heavily developed suburb of our nation’s capital, raising two boys amidst piles of football, soccer, and lacrosse equipment, with two terriers also underfoot as well as an assortment of rescue parrots I was fostering at the time for good measure. My life was never boring, and I loved my furry, feathered, and sports-obsessed tribe.

Admittedly, the raucous chaos that was my daily life did make me dream of quieter spaces.  Annual trips out to the Blue Ridge mountains in the western part of Virginia provided a much needed tranquil respite, and I dreamed of living out there full time once I’d launched the two-legged members of our tribe from the nest.

I wrote the Hamilton series with that dream in mind.  The town and the county in these stories might be fictional, but in every other way, Hamilton, Virginia is the place I wanted to go to set down new roots, launch a new life.

In the first story, Unleashed, Emma Lafferty owns her own pet-sitting business. You can only imagine where that idea came from! When she takes on a holiday assignment from the wealthy owner of Hamilton Industries, she looks forward to a holiday spent in the old man’s weekend estate in the mountains surrounded by his menagerie of animals, including basset hound Jack, Great Dane Martha, and the African grey parrot, Cicero.  She doesn’t anticipate meeting the conglomerate owner’s nephew or getting pulled into a bit of local intrigue about a secret Lionel Hamilton is harboring, one that his nephew, Trevor Hamilton, is determined to uncover. She definitely didn’t plan on falling in love.

When planning Lionel’s eclectic mix of pets, Martha, the great Dane, was inspired by our family’s own Dane, Chloe, and Cicero was based on a particularly colorful foster charge of mine named Lulu. Jack was just…Jack. But in that odd twist of time, our family now has a basset-beagle mix who could have absolutely been the inspiration for that adorable, trudging-along cutie.

In the most interesting twist of all, as I review these stories for their brand-new life on the shelves, I am, in fact, sitting in my home nestled high in the Blue Ridge mountains.  My now-grown oldest’s dog, Lilly, is underfoot, as I’m granddog sitting while he traipses around the world with his lady love on another of his many adventures, and my one parrot foster-fail, Zazu, is still with me, ruling my mountain roost with all six ounces of his unchallenged might.

It all feels like one big perfect circle of life, and I couldn’t be more thrilled to invite you to come visit Hamilton, Virginia for the holidays! Enjoy Unleashed, then pick up Lock, Stock & Jingle Bells (set in the antique shop I still don’t own….yet!), and then next month, you can dive into the series finale when Naughty But Nice, hits the stands, with a yummy bakery setting and the answer to the Hamilton mystery!

 

The best holiday gifts aren’t always under the tree . . .

Holly hates the yuletide season more than ever since she received her very early inheritance: her mother’s Christmas novelty store. Now she has to put her life on hold to deal with the shop, while her parents settle into their busy sunny Florida retirement. But Holly’s childhood pal, Sean, is determined to warm her up—to Christmas and to him. When they uncover a diary concealing secrets involving both their families, this could be the Christmas that changes their lives forever . . .

Praise for Donna Kauffman and her novels

“Kauffman’s stories show that the bravery to reach for a connection is all we need to discover joy; she excels at expressing the struggles and joys of giving in to love.” –Publishers Weekly on Sandpiper Island

“We all know where there’s Donna Kauffman, there’s a rollicking, sexy read chock-full of charm and sparkle. Kauffman’s characters are adorably human and so very magnetic.” –USAToday.com

“Kauffman pens a touching romance . . . a quirky community and secondary characters with enough personality to make readers want to come back. A light romance with a touch of heat, a pinch of intensity and a dash of mysterious small-town magic.” –Kirkus Reviews on Pelican Point

“Sassy, witty, and sexy.” –Library Journal on Snowflake Bay

“Charming characters, emotion galore, a small town—you’re going to love Donna Kauffman!” – Lori Foster